My stomach is in knots, and I’m teetering on the edge of tears when I think about it. Julie starts preschool tomorrow. I know it’s illogical. I know that this will be really, really good for my girl, and I know that I need to make sure that I don’t show any of my reservations to her. I know all that.
But that’s my baby, and I don’t want her to go.
She’s my last one, but that doesn’t really matter. I was just as misty when my older two started school. It’s more that she’s just barely three and a half, and I’m not ready for her to be bouncing off to school like she’s five. Of course, I know that if she was five, she’d be leaving me for SIX HOURS EVERY DAY instead of two hours twice a week. So she’s not bouncing off like she’s five, she’s getting a little socialization, a little stimulation, a little confidence building time without Mama in a safe environment where she’ll be happy and content and love it.
But I still want to cry. Okay, I am crying.
She’s getting far too big, far too fast. So much of this (and by this, I mean parenting in general) is a struggle to survive. But when you aren’t ripping your hair out because they won’t stop fighting, or killing yourself to stay awake through another “just one more” story, or cleaning up, again, the living room you swear was perfectly presentable just an hour ago — you’re trying desperately to keep up. Because they KEEP GROWING. God willing, they keep growing. Diapers and burp cloths turn into potties and my little ponies, stuffed ducks and board books turn into army guys and Harry Potter so much faster than you think they will.
What I love most about parenting, watching them grow and learn and develop and turn into these incredible little people is also what I hate the most. Because with the growth comes loss of what was before. My ten year old isn’t my tiny baby, the one that shushed when I whispered it when she was two days old and I thought she was a genius. My seven year old isn’t my little guy, who toddled around, picking up toys and putting them in a bucket, claiming he was a gahbage guy. And my three year old isn’t my little baby girl, who napped every day at ten, two and five, and was perfectly content all the time, as long she was in my arms.
I’ll send her to preschool tomorrow, and I’ll hold it together. I’ll spend today gathering her outfit, and decorating her shoe box to bring in. We’ll read all the books I’ve found about how AWESOME preschool is, and I’ll rattle off the names of the kids who’ll be in her class, so she’ll feel more comfortable with them tomorrow.
And then I’ll get in my car to drive home. And cry. Probably a lot. And hope like hell that I can remember that even though I don’t have a baby home full time with me anymore (like I have for the past almost eleven years), I’ve got a really incredible little girl. And she’s smart, and funny, and sweet, and she’s going to love preschool.